Founder of new charter school has decades of STEM experience, school choice advocacy

Now semi-retired and in his early 80s, Peter Morcombe, chairman of the board for a new charter school that would be located in Alamance County, has roughly half a century of experience in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields – for which demand is projected to outpace all others fields combined by 2029 – in addition to establishing six charter schools in Alamance and three nearby counties (see related story, this edition).

Morcombe holds dual master’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics from the University of Cambridge in his native England. Most recently, he ran a company in Florida until his son’s illness prompted his return to the Tar Heel state several years ago, Morcombe said this week in an interview with The Alamance News.

Previously, Morcombe served as the engineer and facilities manager for the Free Electron Laser Laboratory at Duke University, which is located adjacent to the physics department on the Duke campus and is used for research in Free Electron Laser/accelerator physics, nuclear physics, materials science, and biological physics. He holds 11 patents and counts, among his accomplishments, building a particle accelerator.

Morcombe’s professional experience also includes technology-based design, process development, and management in the manufacturing sector. He previously served as the director of business operations in Asia and Latin America for the global telecommunications company ITT; as a chief engineer for a telecommunications company in England; and as a private consultant for manufacturing construction, relocation, reorganizations, and start-ups in 10 states from Maine to California.

During the 1990s, Morcombe successfully lobbied state legislators to expand school choice and twice entered the political arena. The father of six ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro city school board in the mid-1990s. In 2002, then an Orange County resident, he ran as a Republican candidate for the N.C. senate seat then held by Democratic incumbent Eleanor Kinnaird, who handily secured her reelection with 65.74 percent of the vote.

Read about the application and plans for a new charter school in Alamance County: